An equal-opportunity line-stripper. That’s how you could classify the hybrid striped bass.
Pound for pound, no fresh water fish can hold a candle to the power and attitude of the hybrid. The 19.66-pound state-record hybrid was caught in 1984 at Lake Ray Hubbard and surely gave angler John Haney a ride. If someone tops that record, they will have earned it.
Because hybrids can tolerate a wider range of conditions, they are preferred over striped bass for stocking at some bodies of water. Texas hatcheries produce nearly 3 million of the original cross, a male white bass crossed with a female striped bass, each year. Those fish are usually stocked in May and June.
Here is a breakdown of some of the better hybrid lakes in the state:
Spencer Dumont, a Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologist in Abilene, said golden algae has slowed the stocking program of some of the lakes in his district, but that shouldn’t stop the lakes in his area from producing good numbers of hybrids this time of year.
“Hybrids thrive on shad,” he said. “You can catch them trolling with downriggers or sometimes on topwaters. Right now, they haven’t found their summer hiding spots yet. Some people catch them when they’re bass fishing near the shore as well.”
Dumont said some of better hybrid lakes in the state are in his district.
“Fort Phantom Hill used to be a power plant lake but they took it offline,” he said. “The fall and winter fishing isn’t as good as it used to be but the fishing there in spring and summer is great for hybrids.”
Dumont also said Proctor is a great place to target May hybrids.
“There’s a lot of shad in Proctor and they key on that,” he said. “There’s plenty of opportunities to catch fish right now.”
Quinc Pearcy, who runs Wall Hanger Fishing Guide Service and guides anglers on lakes Proctor, Texoma, Whitney and Belton, said hybrid fishing patterns this time of year on many lakes are the same.
“A lot of times, we’ll fish in shallow water up to three feet deep,” he said. “The fish will be spawning about that time. We use a lot of live bait because it’s easier for clients. May’s good for topwater action also. You can use sassy shads, jigs and other stuff like that.”
North Central Texas
Robert Mauk, a TPWD fisheries biologist from Wichita Falls, said there are at least three good hybrid lakes in his district.
“Millers Creek is very good,” he said. “Wichita is also good. So is Lake Graham. There’s good forage on each. All those lakes have scads of gizzard shad.”
Mauk said Millers Creek, located 77 miles southwest of Wichita Falls, holds the best population of large hybrids in the area.
“Graham is a power plant lake and they typically catch a lot where the warm water comes into the lake, too,” he said. “At Wichita, they catch a lot along the dam area. Millers Creek seems to be good throughout the lake.”
According to TPWD reports, many hybrids are caught in the equalization channel between Graham and Eddleman, and around the dam on the Graham side of the lake.
Rafe Brock, a TPWD fisheries biologist from Fort Worth, said there are three lakes in the D/FW area that have been stocked regularly in the past five or six years and provide good hybrid fisheries.
“Benbrook, Lewisville and Ray Hubbard are the only lakes we have been consistently stocking in the D/FW area,” he said. “In the summer time, the hybrid stripers will bunch up kind of like white bass. Usually using slabs and jigging them off the bottom works really well.”
Brock said other fish can sometimes get in the way when fishing for hybrids on D/FW and other lakes.
“A good way to catch them is if you can get the bait below the schooling white bass in the summer,” he said. “The hybrids will be down below the white bass.”
Anglers regularly catch hybrids near humps and ridges on Walnut Creek and on the main part of Lewisville as well as on Benbrook and Ray Hubbard, according to TPWD reports.
Captain Ron Metzger, a fishing guide on Lake Ray Hubbard, said the 23,000-acre reservoir is great for May hybrid fishing.
“By the first of May it’s very good,” he said. “In the latter part of the summer it slows down a bit, but May is a great time to fish.”
Metzger said he uses slabs to catch hybrids much of the time but also trolls for them.
“What you can do is take a lipped crankbait and troll it down about 12 feet or so and that works real well for hybrids,” he said. “Ray Hubbard has got some channels and lots of treed areas. There’s lots of good structure and it is similar to some other lakes around here.”
West Central Texas
John Ingle, a TPWD fish and wildlife technician in San Angelo, said Lake Nasworthy, located on the southwest side of San Angelo, is a solid lake to catch hybrids on.
“The lake has been getting stocked regularly,” he said. “One of the best parts about Nasworthy is there’s lots of shoreline access. You’ll often see people with 10 or 15 poles on the bank fishing for hybrids.
Ingle said live bait is the preferred method for anglers fishing from the bank.
“People will catch their own bait,” he said. “They’ll then use the cut shad. There are stories of some people flipping jigs or other artificials in and around boat docks and catching 12- to 15-pound hybrids, too.”
Ingle said the lake had been silting in recently, but now it’s been carved out.
“The lake was dredged so it opened it up a lot,” he said. “It has made trolling for any type of fish easier, especially hybrids.”
Charles Munger, a TPWD fisheries biologist in Canyon, said there’s at least one good hybrid lake in the Panhandle.
“Lake Mackenzie has fairly good numbers of hybrids,” he said. “They’ve also got some pretty good size.
Munger said Mackenzie, located 10 miles northwest of Silverton, has been stocked with hybrids but as with other hybrid stockings in the state, a common problem arose.
“The stocking was hurt a little by (golden) algae,” he said. “But the lake has gotten better.
Munger said Mackenzie is open and presents plenty of trolling opportunities for the hybrid angler.
“Most people will use jigs, like 4-inch white jigs on downriggers,” he said. “Others might use shad as well.”
Mackenzie was last stocked with hybrids in 2005, but was regularly stocked in the middle to late 1990s.
Mackenzie’s record hybrid is a 12.94-pound fish caught in 2001 by Eddy Yelton.
The statewide daily bag limit for hybrids and stripers is five fish person with a minimum length requirement of 18 inches. The white bass daily bag is 25 fish with a 10-inch minimum on length.
For more information on hybrid striper fishing, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us.
Will Leschper is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the Texas Outdoor Writers Association. His column appears weekly in the Amarillo Globe-News and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.